Like many women, mom of two Melissa Esplin has a blog. The Salt Lake City mom posts photos of herself, her kids, and various craft projects she's working on her website, I Still Love You. It's a perfectly innocent site that many women likely go to for sewing ideas, style inspiration, etc.
But, one day Esplin woke up to find that personal photos from her blog had been posted to a porn site -- a "revenge porn" site more specifically. Esplin's head had been superimposed onto naked bodies, along with her name, the city she lives in, and a link to her Facebook page.
Kind of terrifying, no?
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Esplin says that she started getting bombarded with messages from strange men. Some messages said, "You're pretty, those pictures were really interesting. I'd like to get to know you more," Esplin said. "Then some got considerably more graphic." She added, "It infuriated me and sent me into a panic. I was angry that people would think that that person was me."
Esplin immediately contacted the site, asking them to take down the photos, but they only agreed to do so if she paid $400. "Really? Like I would pay someone $400. Who knows what they would have done with my credit card information," Esplin said. "I'm one of many women who are extorted on this site every day." She's since contacted the FBI, but since the site is run out of a different country, there's really not much she can do, short of paying the fee.
It's truly terrifying that people can and do get away with this kind of behavior. We all should be careful with what we post online, but it's both sad and scary that this is what it's come to.
Hopefully, Esplin's photos will somehow be removed from the site without having to pay the hefty fee. But something tells me, if they ever are, it won't be for a long time.
What do you think of this? Have you ever been the victim of cyberbullying?
Image via Anthony Easton/Flickr